Last year only 17.5 percent of the student population voted during the ASCSU presidential elections, but this year the candidates, student government and administration are taking strides to increase student voting.
The president’s office set a 25 percent stretch goal for student voting shortly before the campaign began. The record is 23 percent set in 2004.
“We feel that in the past the reason most students don’t vote is because they just forget or they think it’s going to be difficult,” said Emily Laue, ASCSU election manager. “Students don’t realize how easy it is to vote and a good number of students just don’t remember.”
With elections beginning next week lasting from Monday to Wednesday, election management has increased its effort to remind students that voting is only a click away on RamWeb.
“This year, we are trying to show students that voting only takes a couple of seconds and is very beneficial to them,” Laue said. “We want to remind students that this is their chance to get their voices heard and to make a difference to the university.”
The elections committee has arrangements in the works with computer labs across the university to change computers’ wallpaper to say, “Ram the Vote! Vote on RamWeb today!”
The committee also plans to place individual signs in computer labs reminding students to vote.
As it has in past years, RamWeb will automatically reveal a voting ballot when students log on to the Web page, but this year RamCT will also flash a reminder to students to vote on RamWeb.
The first 700 students to vote will receive free “For-Ever-Green” T-shirts and a class by class breakdown of voters will also be revealed as the ballots remain open to instill what Laue called “class pride” in voters.
“In the past, the freshman voting turnout has been the lowest,” Laue said. “We want to challenge all the classes to increase their voter turnout numbers for class pride.”
Beside the efforts of the elections committees, candidates are also taking it upon themselves to create awareness, with daily efforts from all four candidates.
Presidential candidate Taylor Smoot said his campaign understands the importance of trying to get people to vote.
“The most important thing we are doing is when we go to a group or an organization we don’t look at it as a group, we look at it as individuals,” Smoot said. “It’s about connecting with individuals on a personal level. We’ve talked to over 50 organizations and we’re out there every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
Another difference from past years is that the election has four candidates running, which automatically increases the overall effort to gain the attention of voters, candidates said.
“One thing the election is benefitting from is that there are so many candidates,” said Jarred Quintana, a presidential candidate. “Signs are everywhere, not just in the plaza. Having more than two tickets running can really help against voter apathy.”
Laue said in the past five years there have only been two tickets, and she estimates that anomaly of four candidates should increase voter turnout.
“I think with four different candidates coming on the ballot, students walking across the plaza are bombarded a little bit,” Laue said. “But at least now they can see there’s an election — maybe they can remember to vote.”
Voting begins at 8 a.m., Apr. 7. Ballots will remain open until 5 p.m., Apr. 9. When students log on to RamWeb a “vote here now” link will appear and that link will show the four presidential candidates.
“Voting is easy,” Laue said. “It only takes a moment and has a lasting impact on CSU.”
Junior accounting major Kevin Macbride said that he didn’t vote his freshman year because of a “lack of awareness” but he voted for the first time last year.
“My freshman year I didn’t even know what was going on, ” Macbride said. “But last year I actually knew — I knew there was a student election.”
Junior computer science major Brandon Lenerd said he has never cast a ballot in ASCSU elections and doesn’t plan to because he doesn’t think elections affect him.
“I just don’t know anything about the elections. I’m not a political science major,” Lenerd said. “Best case scenario, we get the best person for the job, but I still won’t know what kind of power they have.”
Staff writer Tim Maddocks cane be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.